**Please read this series in order as each is a direct continuation of the previous. The story itself is a bit long so I have decided to break it into manageable chunks. Please rate and leave a comment as to help me improve my writing and continue to create stories for your enjoyment! Thank you.**
As I covered my pillow in snot and tears, my phone buzzed in my back pocket. A message.
I glimpsed at it through swollen eyelids and blurry vision. My friend, Amber. She was coming over. I wanted to dissuade her but before I could finish typing there was a knock at the door. Groaning, I hoisted myself up on trembling legs and ambled over. With a moment of paranoia, I glanced through the peephole.
It was Amber, short and spunky, and bearing a crumpled brow of concern. I unbolted the door and pulled her in with a weak hug. She smoothed down my hair and gave me a comforting squeeze before pulling me to the living room, her foot kicking the door closed behind her. I was guided onto the recliner as she took a seat opposite of me.
“You look like hell, what happened?” She asked with concern.
This was just like her. Childhood friends we were, always looking out for each other, even now. But Amber always had a sense for when something was wrong. When my first boyfriend dumped me, when I failed my advanced algebra class, even when I had to put my cat down, Amber would always just feel off and come rushing to the rescue.
I broke into tears again as I told her about the crash, intentionally omitting the part about the premonition. She listened to me sputter and ramble with utmost patience and held my shivering hands comfortingly. When I finished she consoled me and stood up to make us some tea.
“It was horrible Am…” I muttered
She nodded as she handed me a steaming cup. “I imagine, but you are okay. It was a freak accident.” She assured before sipping at her drink.
I tried to take solace in her words, but a voice nagged in the back of my head. Was it really an accident? And more importantly, would it still have happened if I didn’t have the vision?
We drank our tea as she rattled on about random events and people, and I was thankful for the distraction. When the drinks were gone a look of brilliance came over her face as her eyes locked onto the coffee table.
It was the pipe.
“Hey! I know what will make you feel better!” She proclaimed as she dug into her bra. In a second she was dangling a small bag of bud in front of me. My pulse quickened as I tried to rationalize an excuse to deny her, but a thought came to the forefront of my mind.
It was entirely possible that the vision was a coincidence, or the stress from the nightmare that morning made my mind fill in blanks that weren’t there. Maybe it wasn’t even the guy I saw, hell I couldn’t even remember any features now. If I smoked now, either it would happen to the both of us and prove me right, or…it would prove I was crazy and probably needed some time off.
Besides, what was the alternative? Stop smoking altogether because I had a bad trip? The more I thought about it the more stupid I felt. I plastered a smile on my face and handed her the pipe. She eagerly packed it, and I could see the admiration in her eyes as her slight fingers glided over the glass bowl.
She fished out a lighter and extended the pipe to me. “Owner gets first hit!” She trilled.
I hesitantly took it, silently hoping she would chalk my trembling up to the aftershock of the crash. She wouldn’t be entirely wrong…
I lit the bowl, and with a deep breath hit the pipe. I handed it off to her before I exhaled, fearing the inevitability that I would experience a repeat from earlier. She took her hit, closing her eyes as she leaned back to slowly exhale. Unable to hold my breath any longer, I did the same, breathing out the acrid smoke with a wheeze followed by a hollow series of coughs.
The smoke curled in the air, twisting into malformed shapes as I felt my back hit the recliner. That familiar wave of ecstasy washed over me as my eyelids sunk. That floating feeling returned to make my tongue dance behind my teeth. I heard a giggle from Amber but it sounded like she was halfway across the world.
Then all too soon my consciousness dropped, like plunging head first into an icy lake. I moaned in contempt, though no sound escaped me. I was back in the void with the blurry tunnel vision. I wanted so badly to shut my eyes or look away. But I didn’t have control anymore.
This time the scene was different, it was a younger man standing in front of a window. He looked scared as an invisible force flung him backward out of it. I couldn’t hear the glass breaking over his horrified scream. The view shifted forward to peer down at his descent. A look of horror was frozen on his slack jaw face, which was presumably broken, and his neck bent at an unnatural angle. A pool of blood formed a halo around his mutilated head.
The vision faded, maybe faster than before, as a ringing in my ears and pulsing headache grounded me back into reality. When my eyes managed to open, I was rendered temporarily blind by an incoming beam of sunlight from my bedroom window. I was in my bed. It was the next morning. My swollen eyes searched for Amber to find her at the side of my bed, lightly snoring as she leaned back in a chair.
I crept into the bathroom to splash my face with water and down a couple aspirin from the medicine cabinet. My mouth was dry, almost cottony. I checked my reflection. I really did look like hell. My eyelids were puffy and red, my lips cracked dry, and dark circles lined my eyes like I was a rabid raccoon. I turned off the faucet and went back into my room.
When I returned, Amber was sitting up in her seat stretching. She smiled at me with creased, sleepy eyes.
“Morning! You worried me ya know?” She said with mock consternation. I tilted my head in confusion and she arched an eyebrow.
“You took one hit and then passed out. Then you had like a mini seizure in your sleep. I suppose you had a rough night so I won’t hold it against you, besides, your okay now.” She chided and then shrugged. It was clear that she had not experienced a vision as I had.
“Yeah, I feel better.” I lied through my teeth. She didn’t seem to be buying it.
“Thanks, for coming over and everything. I honestly don’t know what I’d do without you.” I said as I pulled out my most convincing grin. I wasn’t lying, she was my saving grace most days.
“So what’s your plan? I don’t think you should be going into work today, you need a break” her motherly look of concern covered her face again.
I agreed and pulled out my phone. Amber ambled out while I made the call, presumably to scavenge up some breakfast. I told my boss about the crash, hamming it up a bit to elicit the sympathy to let me stay home. She was pretty understanding and told me to come back in as soon as I felt okay.
I heard Amber shuffling around the kitchen and then the ding of a toaster. Before I put my phone away I quickly typed up a message to my friend in Europe, I needed to know more about the pipe.
Amber came back in toting a couple toaster tarts and two mugs of what smelled like coffee. She nestled back into her chair and handed me mine as we both began munching noisily.
I scarfed down the hot pastry without tasting it. I didn’t realize how hungry I was. My friend looked on with a wholesome smirk, there was no judgement in her eyes. I brushed crumbs off my face as took a careful sip of coffee.
“How about you come over to my house? Give you some time to get your mind off of yesterday.” She asked between bites.
I nodded in agreement. I didn’t want to think about this anymore. My mind urged me to ignore it, to force the worry and fear out of existence. I would try my best.
“That sounds like a great idea to be honest” I breathed out and went to gather my purse.
She finished her breakfast, rinsed the cups in the sink, and ushered us out to her car. We coasted along with the soft light of morning shimmering over us. Winter was just ending, and the first signs of an overdue spring were beginning to creep through the crevices. Amber coasted into her garage and we both got out and stretched, breathing in the cool air.
We walked around to the front where there was a lined off area of pebbles and masses of rock were arranged in a zen garden. I turned to Amber with a playfully quizzical look. She crinkled her nose at me.
“I tried growing some early spring plants…but it didn’t work. So now it’s a rock garden.” She said as a matter of factly as we reached the front door. “Rocks can’t die.” She added while we walked in.
I managed a chuckle as I plopped down on the sofa and she dug out her gaming console. We played for an hour or so, laughing and joking. Surprisingly, it was effective at quelling my worry. At least for a while.